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Information technology students as forerunners in Tampere University of Applied Sciences
Workers' cooperative motivates students in many ways

A workers' cooperation for information technology students called Tki-Verstas was established in 2011 for product development and innovations at Tampere University of Applied Sciences, TAMK.  Since then, it has received over 70 assignments from companies in the field of information technology. Every assignment has been included as part of a learner's information technology studies. This has resulted in an excellent, motivating system for both students and clients to cooperate and connect ongoing studies with paid work.

Ari Rantala and Kimmo Saarela
Head of Degree Programme (ICT engineering) Ari Rantala at Tampere University of Applied Sciences (left) and CEO Kimmo Saarela of  Trelab Ltd are familiar with workers' cooperatives run by students.
High resolution image (1,81 Mb)
Photo: Kalle Heiska

Tki-Verstas CoOp has been subcontracted to accomplish projects of different sizes lasting for example for a couple of months by small and medium enterprises. These companies have chosen workers from several student candidates and the cooperative has paid their wages. Thus companies have found flexibly workers into short projects, which has allowed workers and employers to acquaintance themselves during a prolonged trial period.

Working in a cooperative can be extremely important for students, sometimes these are their first workplaces. It gives them better means of supporting for themselves, confidence in their own competence and academic credits from training, project work and dissertation. The maximum of credits for one year's work is 60 points. During two years as many as ten graduate students have found long-term occupations via cooperative activities.

The cooperative has about 50 students out of 300 information technology majors as workers  and a dozen companies as regular customers. Many demonstration device and technical investigations have been assigned through the innovation activities of TAMK. Several internships have also led to further work. A less experienced trainee has usually been appointed to assist a student worker without pay. This is how more and more people have gathered experience of businesses as well as skills and courage to find more demanding jobs.

For small and medium companies working with cooperatives is easier and safer than direct recruiting. The staff at TAMK knows their students' various strengths; this is how they know whom to guide to contact the companies. In addition, the staff combines the assignments as part of the chosen students' studies.

Tki-Verstas CoOp operates in a rented office at TAMK. It has received measuring instruments as donations and acquired a comprehensive collection of components to produce electronic systems. The students of the cooperative have made devices to demonstrate ideas for patenting.  Some students have patents and European patent applications in.
Next year, Tki-Verstas begins to organize clubs to make their field better known: first there will be an electronics club for young people, a GSM mobile club and a programming club. The clubs will be lead by 3rd and 4th year information technology students.

More information:

Tki-Verstas CoOp                
Vihtori Lehtonen, Chairman
Tel. +358 40 528 1184
Trelab Ltd
Kimmo Saarela, CEO
Tel. +358 50 596 7916
Tampere University of Applied Sciences
Ari Rantala, Head of Degree Programme, ICT engineering
Tel. +358 40 726 1284
Tampere University of Applied Sciences
Markku Oikarainen, Innovate Advocate
Tel. +358 40 826 7615

Feel free to use all news. Photographs copyright Kalle Heiska.

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